Robinson, one of Wisden‘s Five Cricketers of the Year, made his Test debut almost exactly 12 months ago, against New Zealand at Lord’s, where he overcame an off-field furore surrounding his historical offensive tweets to claim seven wickets in the match and cement his status as one of the best English-style seamers in the game.
He went on to claim 28 wickets at 19.60 in his maiden home season, and proved that his method could be effective overseas as well with 11 more at 25.54 in England’s Ashes campaign. However, doubts about his fitness began to surface on that tour, and having sat out the Sydney Test, he bowled just 19 overs across two innings in the series finale at Hobart after succumbing to a back spasm.
But, having been selected for England’s three-Test tour of the Caribbean – nominally as the attack leader following the controversial omissions of James Anderson and Stuart Broad – Robinson suffered a recurrence of his back spasm during England’s solitary warm-up in Antigua, and did not play any part in the series.
Upon his return to England, the start to Robinson’s county season with Sussex suffered numerous disruptions, including a tooth infection that delayed his first appearance until the visit of Middlesex in early May. Although he impressed with five first-innings wickets, a bout of food poisoning then hampered his next appearance against Leicestershire at Grace Road.
He bowled one over in the first innings, and just seven on the third day, including four overs of offspin. He had a better workout for New Zealand’s subsequent tour game at Hove, bowling 18 economical – albeit wicketless – overs in a rain-affected contest.
But, having already been omitted from England’s squad for the first two Tests of the New Zealand tour, and with the Vitality Blast now dominating the county schedules, Robinson now has a solitary Championship game, against Glamorgan in Cardiff from June 12, to press his case for inclusion for the third Test at Headingley, which begins on June 23.
In his absence, Middlesex’s Ethan Bamber has been called into the Select XI squad as cover, but was not named in the playing XI.